Friday night, Aug. 10 may just be the Concert in the Park to surpass all others of the past decade.
While it is the fifth event of the eight-week Oakdale Chamber Concert in the Park series for 2018, it is undoubtedly the one which has stirred the most attention and rightfully so.
This Friday at 6:30 p.m., five musicians will reunite on stage and perform as The Heidi Brunk Band. A reunion which is over three years past due as the former band mates have explored other opportunities.
Johnny Brown, Barbara Findlay, Jeff Chilton, Mike Stewart and Greg Rivera collectively once shared the stage with lead vocalist and fellow musician Heidi Brunk as members of the band Remedy. The lead singer passed away in 2008 after sustaining a fatal injury during a family barbecue at her Oakdale home. She was 45-years-old at the time of the accident.
“The nucleus was me and Heidi and Johnny Brown,” musician Greg Rivera said of the band beginning over 20 years ago. “We were actually working on another band and it kind of fizzled out, but I kept that nucleus going when we started building the band.”
Rivera shared as the band grew, so did the popularity, as the musicians maintained a busy schedule of varying events throughout the valley. During a time of no social media, promotion came simply by word of mouth.
“There were no plans of doing this,” Rivera admitted of the reunion, “no plans.”
And then something happened.
As past members gathered one night to celebrate Stewart’s birthday and share a glass of wine, ironically social media played a part.
“Nancy (Parker), who’s Heidi’s best friend got a picture of all of us and put it on her Facebook saying, ‘Hey, getting the old band back together,” Rivera said, chuckling.
Two short hours later, along with his wife Lisa and bandmate Brown, he saw the reaction as over 200 people either ‘liked’, commented or both on the idea of a reunion. As days and a few weeks passed, community members and friends inquired on the post with the bandmates. The interest was undoubtedly there.
“I couldn’t remember exactly the date when Heidi died, but I knew it was around August 10,” Rivera stated.
Flipping through the calendar, he saw it was a Friday and made a call to Mary Guardiola of the Oakdale Chamber. She too loved the idea of the reunited band performing for a Friday night concert and so the date was set.
“It was kind of an obvious choice,” Rivera said of the band name, a tribute to the talent which once stood center stage. “Let’s celebrate our girl. It’s been ten years. I mean, it just all fell into place. It wasn’t planned.”
Looking back 10 and 20 years, Rivera beams as he shared stories of playing alongside of Brunk, noting her as a true professional and a lovable stage presence.
“You just watched her and you’d see that big smile and you’d think, this chick is cool,” he said.
“Anybody that knew Heidi, loved Heidi,” he continued. “If you walked into a room and didn’t know her and she didn’t know you, she’d stand up and smile and make you feel welcome. That’s just the way she was. Just a loveable person. A great spirit and a great singer.”
Looking forward to Friday, the reunion and the celebration of their friend, Rivera shared he’s excited to not just share the stage again, but play some good music and have a good time with the community and friends.
“I feel a buzz in Oakdale about this,” he said. “It makes me anxious. Heidi had a lot of best friends and as a female, besides my wife, she was my best friend. Thank you Oakdale for supporting us.”
The Heidi Brunk Band will perform Friday, Aug. 10 at Dorada Park, at the corner of A Street and North Second Avenue. Music begins at 6:30 p.m. Community members are encouraged to come early to reserve spots, as well as pack a picnic dinner or barbecue and make the night a family event. For further information on this or upcoming events visit www.oakdalechamber.com or call 847-2244.